21 Sep

How Efficient Is Your Property Management Company?

http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet-1024x690.jpg 1024w, http://managerlabs.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Filing-Cabinet.jpg 1280w" sizes="(max-width: 300px) 100vw, 300px" />Walk around your office and various departments. Ask folks what tasks they absolutely hate to do or what seems pointless. You will gain a ton of insight about your processes and procedures. Find out why you do that task. Make sure you dig down deep and study the what-ifs of each task.

For instance, each time we do a batch of “X,” a paper printout is generated. The paper is then put into a bin and we file it byproperty. Every single company, building, and system is different so this example is just an illustration. The point is to ask, “What is the value of this task?” If you file this print-out by property, what is the value of that print-out, and how many times is it referenced or utilized? Why are you printing it at all, can the printing function be turned off? How long is the data retained? There are many questions to ask, but the most important point here is, somebody just needs to ask.

Tracking and naming files and logs is very time consuming so you should ask yourself and your team a few questions. Is it meaningful? How often do you reference the information? What happens to the information after one month, one year, etc.? In one case we had a supervisor instruct the staff to pull down a report, save it to a file, and create a name for the file each time a certain event occurred. On top of that step, the supervisor created an Excel spreadsheet to document the occurrence, and listed it out by date. They did this each time. While doing my weekly walk (remember PMBWA?), I asked a team member what they were working on. They let me know about this logging task and how they felt about it. Once we discussed this with the supervisor and assured her that this data entry and log was not warranted, we were able to stop this process. There were cheers heard throughout this department as people were so glad to find out this busy work was going to stop. It turned out to be a task that took 4 employees approximately 10 minutes every single day to accomplish. That task was eliminated which reduced the waste of data entry labor, server storage, and management oversight to the tune of $5,000 in inefficiency. If we couple that with several other tasks we found and eliminated, we were able to add more properties without adding staff, which is the name of the game. It is not that we ever want to eliminate our personnel and talent, but we want to focus on how we can help them, and the company, grow without adding to our team!

In property management there are many important things we do, but we do not have time to do execute all of these tasks. You need to find the essential work (responding to customers, marketing properties, attending educational seminars, etc.) and get rid of the busy work! If we feel we do not have time for those essential tasks, are we filling our days with too much busy work? Is the owner or accounting making wasteful demands of our time? If outside demands start to add up, you may have to ask the property owner if they really need all these reports, or if they would rather have their property 100% occupied?

I am not saying that this solves all of your efficiency problems, but eliminating wasted busy work is a start! It is amazing how much you will find out about your operation by finding out what people hate to do most. In exchange, replace the task with more important functions that will bring in more rent, fill the property, make it safer, or increase its value. That should be the focus, not the mundane tasks!

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”


20 May

Questions Are Nuggets Of Gold

When managing your property staff, encourage them to ask as many questions as possible. In general, people are afraid to ask questions because they think it makes them look less qualified. However, you must listen and treat each question like a nugget of gold. As a property manager you need to train your staff on the ins and outs of your business, but if they are not sure about something, encourage them to ask questions. Otherwise, acting without direction may have serious ramifications!

Hearing questions before an action is taken should be like music to your ears, when compared to hearing about a mishap or a mistake made because they didn’t ask. For example, would you want to risk to an employee’s safety because a team member failed to ask a question about proper safety procedures? Also keep in mind that when something takes longer to do or makes your staff work harder, don’t scream at them for asking, “Why must it be done this way?” and respond with an “it’s my way or the highway” type response. Instead, explain that it is for the greater good of the property, the building ownership, or that it is a requirement of the insurance policy. Make it clear to everyone involved why there are certain processes and procedures in place. In so many cases, if people do not understand the reasons, it can create confusion and problems. Life is hard enough without being caught in the trap of not dotting those I’s and crossing those T’s. Not only does it hurt the individual, when the issue catches up to them, but it causes hardship to the building owner, the company, the customers, and all of your coworkers as well. If people are not sure, they need to be trained to ask! Also remind them to think about every decision they make and visualize all of the outcomes.

Encouraging questions also helps to iron out any miscommunications. If one person is not clear, maybe nobody is clear, but they too, were afraid to ask. By encouraging questions everybody learns. In turn, this allows communication to improve across the entire organization. For example, the failure of staff member to ask a question pertaining to the interpretation of a vendor contract or a clause on a certificate of insurance can cause serious financial hardship to the property owner. The outcome of this example could be very serious and completely avoided if your staff stops, thinks about the value of a question, and asks!

In my career, the most destructive employees I have ever encountered were those that did not ask questions. If someone stops asking me questions, it is a “Red Flag.” As property managers, it is our job to be available to the team, but we must also recognize those employees who are failing to question or inquire when conditions or situations are not typical. It is no different when you need to ask a question of your supervisor or building owner when you are not crystal clear about a subject or issue. Every issue property managers come upon have so many variables that it is almost impossible to know everything. Keep an open line of communication and embrace the nuggets of gold that come from your employees. The motto should always be “If you aren’t sure? Ask!”

“More content available at All Things Property Management by Buildium, industry leaders in Online Property Management Software.”